| SAN FRANCISCO
SAN FRANCISCO Nov 15 A U.S. judge said he would
consider whether to preliminarily approve Facebook's second
attempt to settle allegations the social networking company
violated privacy rights.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg
rejected a proposed class action settlement over Facebook's
'Sponsored Stories' advertising feature. But at a hearing on
Thursday in San Francisco federal court, Seeborg was much less
critical of a revised proposal and promised a ruling "very
Five Facebook Inc members filed a lawsuit seeking
class-action status against the social networking site, saying
its Sponsored Stories feature violated California law by
publicizing users' "likes" of certain advertisers without paying
them or giving them a way to opt out. The case involved over 100
million potential class members.
As part of a proposed settlement reached earlier this year,
Facebook agreed to allow members more control over how their
personal information is used. Facebook also agreed to pay $10
million for legal fees and $10 million to charity, according to
However, Seeborg rejected the proposed deal in August,
questioning why it did not award any money to members.
In a revised proposal, Facebook and plaintiff lawyers said
users now could claim a cash payment of up to $10 each to be
paid from a $20 million total settlement fund. Any money
remaining would then go to charity.
The company also said it would engineer a new tool to enable
users to view any content that might have been displayed in
Sponsored Stories and then opt out if they desire, the court
In court on Thursday, Facebook attorney Michael Rhodes said
the settlement provided meaningful protections and that
Seeborg's job was to ensure a fair settlement - not write
"Trust me, I'm not proposing to set grand policy with
privacy issues writ large," Seeborg said.
Two children's advocacy groups filed court papers opposing
the deal, saying that an opt-in procedure with parental consent
should be required before Facebook can use a minor's content in
However, plaintiff attorney Robert Arns said the deal
balances the public good with Facebook's ability to run a
profitable social networking service.
"We believe we cracked the code so that it's fair," he said.
If Seeborg grants his preliminary approval, outside groups
would be able to file further objections before a final hearing.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is Angel Fraley et al., individually and on behalf of
all others similarly situated vs. Facebook Inc, 11-cv-1726.